The Best Perennials to Grow in the Shade: Mid-sized & Shady

The first part of this three-part series takes a look at why it’s difficult to plant under mature trees and names three good low-growing perennials that tolerate the dry shade and root competition there.

Let’s look at three more good under-tree perennials – this time ones that grow a little taller… in the range of one to two feet tall.

Lenten rose (Helleborus)

One of the first perennials of the year to bloom, Lenten roses produce hanging, bell-shaped flowers in a variety of pastel shades. The leaves are evergreen in all but the coldest regions. Deer hardly ever bother them. Most grow 18 to 24 inches tall and are hardy in Zones 4-9.

Lenten Roses

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Sometimes nicknamed creeping lilyturf, liriope is one of the most durable perennials in some of the worst conditions (except wet clay). It grows in foot-tall, grass-like clumps and sends up flower spikes of purple, bluish-lavender, or white in late summer. It is also hardy in Zones 5-10.


George Weigel

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

This one isn’t a bloomer but an arching, ornamental grass-like plant with tan seedheads. It’s a U.S. native found naturally in dry woodlands, not limited to PA – and familiar to life under trees. It grows 12 to 15 inches tall and fills in to make a weed-preventing colony. It’s hardy in Zones 3-8.

Pennsylvania Sedge

George Weigel

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